Rebel commander says Iran also sending reinforcements, Moscow denies it has boots on the ground
Bashar Assad is the current president of Syria as well as the Regional Secretary of the country's Ba'ath Party.
The son of late Syrian president Hafez Assad, Bashar Assad was chosen by his father as successor only after the untimely death of his older brother, Bassel. At the time, Bashar Assad was completing his ophthalmology training in London, and his father was worried that his son's lack of experience in state affairs would eventually spell the end of the Ba'ath party's 30-year reign in Syria.
Bashar, who is also a colonel in the Syrian military, assumed into the role of president in June 2000. One of his first acts as president was to release dozens of political prisoners from Syrian jails, a move that many hoped would be only the first in a series of actions that would lead Syria closer to reform and perhaps toward better relations with the West. A year later, however, Syrian security forces resumed a crackdown on political dissent inside the country.
Regarding his views on Israel, immediately upon entering office Assad stated his support for a Hezbollah presence on Israel's border with Lebanon, repeated his calls for an unconditional Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, and expressed his support for the Palestinian use of violence against Israel.
Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Assad regime was accused by the United States of allowing Jihadist fighters to enter Iraq through Syria. Assad also ignored repeated calls by Washington to end support for Hezbollah, and prevent Palestinian terror groups from operating on Syrian territory. All this, combined with his alliance with Iran, signaled swiftly deteriorating Syrian-U.S. relations.
The assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005, for which Syria was largely blamed, was the final straw that prompted Washington to pull its ambassador from Damascus.
Assad denied that Syria had been involved in the assassination, but a wave of Lebanese hostility sparked by the assassination of the much-loved former leader added to pressure on Syria to pull its troops from Lebanon after almost 30 years.
Despite the removal of troops, however, the Assad regime continues to play a role in Lebanese affairs, primarily through the continued support for Hezbollah, which Israel alleges is receiving arms from Damascus. Following the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah, Assad hailed the Shi'ite group's “victory” and condemned other Arab leaders for not supporting the militant organization against Israel.
Despite initial predictions that the politically inexperienced Assad would struggle to maintain a grip on power, the opposite appears to be true. Nonetheless, some pundits have speculated that Assad is merely a figurehead for the Ba'ath regime, and that Syrian policies are actually formed by others.
Bashar Assad is married to Asma Assad, a British-born Sunni Muslim from London, where the two met and she was raised. They have three children, the oldest named for his grandfather, Hafez.
Despite heavy bombardment and thousands of casualties, Assad's troops have not made any significant advances against militants who dominate Idlib province
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Assad's regime could still have chemicals like sarin – and is trying to keep inspectors out of the country, OPCW finds
No reason was given for the shake-up, which came as government forces have made little progress in a two-month-old offensive against rebels in the northwestern Idlib province
Yusuf bin Alawi discusses boosting efforts 'to restore stability and security in the region' with Syrian President Bashar Assad
Although parts of western Aleppo still have busy shopping areas, the city’s factories and wholesale trading businesses have been devastated by war damage and the departure of traders
At least ten civilians were killed in Saturday's government attacks on the Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says
Intensive shelling continued in southern Idlib and northern Hama after the truce went into effect
Syria's Russian-backed military has been pressing an assault on rebels in their last major stronghold with air attacks and ground battles that have already forced tens of thousands to leave their homes
The Arab world is mourning the death of famed soccer player Abdelbaset Sarout, who became an icon of the anti-Assad movement
A fight broke out last week between camp residents and Lebanese firefighters who arrived to put out a fire, during which unknown assailants burned down three tents
Once a well-known goalkeeper from the city of Homs, 27-year-old Abdelbasset al-Sarout then became one of the symbols of the revolt against Assad
Known as the 'guardian of freedom,' Abdelbaset Sarout was declared a traitor by the government, which forbade him to play soccer and offered an award for his arrest
Assad's forces 'target everything: bakeries, hospitals, markets. The aim is to stop all services to civilians. Everything,' says a surgeon whose hospital was blasted by strikes
Russia halts UN Security Council statement on Syria's Idlib ■ Fighting rages in Idlib in past week ■ UN: 3 million people caught in crossfire ■ Hundreds of ISIS relatives leave camp in northeast Syria
Explained Syrian Crisis: Russia, Turkey and Assad Do Battle in Idlib With Millions of Lives Hanging in the Balance
An all-out offensive by Syrian government forces to capture Idlib in northwestern Syria from insurgents could unleash an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, for the area is home to 3 million people
Government forces first captured Kfar Nabudah, located on the southwestern edge of Idlib, on May 8, then lost it on Wednesday as fighting continues in the country's last major rebel stronghold
After failing to persuade Russia to end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey, Ankara's aid signals it is ready to preserve influence in Syria
The village had been seized two weeks earlier by government forces in an offensive that wrecked a months-old cease-fire
At least 380 civilians have been arrested in Syria's south and 11 civilians serving on local councils and former fighters have been killed or attacked
Washington rejects Russian official's claim that militants captured by Assad regime troops admitted plan to stage fake chemical attacks and blame them on Damascus
As the biggest upsurge in violence since last summer between Assad and his insurgent enemies in Idlib rages on, more than 170 civilians lost their lives
During the country's civil war President Bashar Assad's shadowy security agencies sought to eliminate dissent at all costs
The Syrian army waged a costly campaign to seize the coastal province of Latakia, leaving dozens killed. Army denies claims that forces have withdrawn
As part of a campaign to take back Syria, Assad's airstrikes have killed 188 people in two weeks. Lacking resources and equipment, medics have had to resort to desperate measures
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition-linked war monitor, confirmed that al-Bani was taken and that troops are marching toward the hill
Sanctions could spark conflict with U.S.-backed Kurdish-led SDF over oil wells in the East
The opposition accuses Assad of withholding services from districts where the rebellion against him flared
No free gifts from Moscow: Russian aid in retrieving missing Israeli soldier Zachary Baumel embarrassed Syria, so now Putin is pushing for a gesture to appease Assad